How do we grade the different cafés?

After months of discussion, we realized that there are 9 things that we consistently talked about and compared among the cafés we visited. We decided that of these, we could grade 6. These are each listed below along with a description of features we considered achieving a ‘high’ grade.

Space – Not too crowded with furniture, large enough to accommodate most games, adequate space between tables to easily move around the café, adequate lighting in all areas, not too stuffy. Tables are roomy enough for a standard game. This could include general cleanliness, interior design (wall colours), odours, and so on.

Collection – A wide collection of games spanning a range of styles and skills; games shelves are easily accessible and games are categorized in some way (game type), and a catalogue system for the games to ensure specific games are easily found and returned

Food – Deliciousness, especially, but also a good menu with a range of simple treats and easy, prepared meals; we aren’t looking for multi-course meals, but great meals that are easy to eat while playing a game.

Drink – Draught beer and good coffee are necessary. Local breweries? Even better!

Staff – Although we looked for good table service (prompt, polite, clean), we really want to see ‘game gurus’. These may be a part of the service staff, or dedicated positions that only helped patrons with games. We expected gurus to be knowledgeable of many games, skilled at making good recommendations (i.e. appropriate for the skill-level of the patrons) and capable of quickly and un-clumsily teaching patrons a new game. We often evaluated the gurus first-hand, but also by observing them interact with other patrons.

Look and Feel – This is our overall feel of the place that included stuff that we haven’t evaluated above; , graphic design, reward systems, interesting ideas, ‘mood’ of the place and others.

We evaluated each of above criteria, using a school-grade system and we equated each grade to the following descriptors:

A = Excellent
B = Good
C = Adequate
D = Needs improvement

In addition, we used pluses and minuses to refine our grades by using them as an added description:

+ = ‘very’
– = ‘almost’

So, for example, a ‘A-‘ for food would mean that we considered the café food ‘almost excellent’.

We felt that the remaining 3 criteria were not grade-able, but instead, they were simple yes/no evaluations that contributed to our overall feeling of the café. These three are listed here along with the features that we considered favourable for each evaluation.

Retail – The café sells games, and possibly other game- or café-related items. Convenient for that late night impulse buy.

Flat fee – The café charges a flat-fee (of $5) to attend. We consider an hourly rate unfavourable.

Events – The café holds special events, weekly or otherwise, that draws participation into the table-top game world. Examples include open-gaming, trivia nights, competitions.